There was an overwhelming sense of disappointment among teachers and public representatives in Cork last night following the announcement that two errors had been identified in the Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades Process.
Further concerns were voiced about the delay in the information being made public, with politicians saying questions need to be answered on the issue.
Yesterday it emerged that two errors in the grades process meant that incorrect grades were issued to around 6,500 students when they received their results on 7 September.
The errors are now being rectified and the process is being re-checked with a series of independent checks underway.
The Minister for Education Norma Foley addressed the errors at a briefing yesterday afternoon.
She explained that the first error that was identified was an issue with a single line of code, which was discovered by the Canadian company, Polymetrika International, who were developing the statistical software used for the predicted grading process.
Polymetrika discovered the error and informed the Department about it.
The Department of Education and Skills found the second error while performing checks related to rectifying the first error, she said.
The Minister said that as a result of the errors, approximately 6,500 students received at least one result, one grade lower than it should have been and some students received a higher grade, but these students will not be impacted in any way.
Speaking to the Echo, Cork-based ASTI President, Ann Piggott said that she was “shocked” and “disappointed” following the revelation.
“Teachers took part in the Calculated Grades Process in good faith and we were assured that the Process was robust and fair for students.
“Teachers I have spoken to are very concerned about the impact of the announcement on those students affected, as well as the entire class of 2020 who have endured so much stress and uncertainty this year,” said Ms Piggott.
While the discovery of the errors is upsetting for both students and teachers, Ms Piggott said that there is some comfort in knowing that no one will be downgraded. However, she remains disappointed with how the situation was handled.
“It’s a disappointment. It’s a disappointment to all of the teachers who took part in the system. We were told it was going to be robust and rigorous and now, here we are beyond the process and at the very end of it and these two errors have been discovered that have affected so many people," she said.
“The Minister did admit it, she did apologise but I do think that we should have informed last week when this was discovered. Maybe they wanted to rectify it and see how many people were involved, but I don’t see the logic in keeping that information from the public."
Cork TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD called for the Minister for Education to provide answers to questions in the Dáil following the discovery of errors.
“The Minister said that this is wrong and she is right to have said that and to have apologised for it because for many of the students that I have spoken to, they felt that they were downgraded unfairly.
“In some instances, it turns out that they were right and that this model had been extremely unfair to them and there’s huge questions about how this came to be.”
Mr Ó Laoghaire said "there are huge questions to be answered" and the Minister needs to come forward and do that.
“We really need to focus on solutions and for me the focus needs to be very clearly on third level, and increasing the number of places and ensuring that those who would have otherwise been entitled to third-level places, will get those third-level places.”
Cork Labour TD Sean Sherlock said the Leaving Certificate grades debacle is "tantamount to a dereliction of duty" to this year's exam students.
Deputy Sherlock told The Echo: "The Minister and Government had this information last week. It’s tantamount to a dereliction of duty to this cohort of students. The Minister and the Taoiseach must answer questions and show they have resolutions for the Leaving Certificate Class of 2020."
Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Mick Barry described the fact that the government was aware of the errors since last week as "scandalous".
And he said: "Additional places in third level must be put in place to cater for students whose grades will now be improved. At the same time there must be no penalty or demotion for any student who has already been accepted to a course. The Government has made a real hames of this situation and no student should end up paying a price for their mistakes."
Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said that the Government’s approach to the calculated grades system has been "marked by a lack of transparency and last-minute decisions which has only added to the uncertainty and stress of students this year".
She continued: "It will only become clear in the next few days how this has impacted on individual students."
Independent Deputy Michael Collins said: "This is shocking news for so many students where many of them were already questioning their results. So many students have now chosen subjects and courses that they would not have chosen if their grades were assessed correctly in the first place."